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Two Iowa students qualify for national Braille Challenge

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      The logo of The Braille Challenge indicates it is "A National Program of Braille Institute."The list of regional Braille Challenge contestants that have qualified for competition at the national level has been released. Two students that participated in Iowa's regional Braille Challenge will be traveling to Los Angeles this June to participate nationally at The 2016 Braille Challenge.  


      Kayla Bartholomew

      Kayla Bartholomew operates a Perkins Brailler as Michael Hoenig looks on.Kayla Bartholomew is a 2nd grader at Willowbrook Elementary in the Southeast Polk Community School District. This year she competed in the Apprentice level at the Iowa Braille Challenge, taking first place in that age bracket.

      Earlier in the year, Kayla won the 2016 Brailler Award for her "excellence in braille, her enthusiasm to learn, and her display of kindness towards others." The award was given by Mike Hoenig of Davenport. The Brailler Award was founded by Hoenig’s late mother, Marie, who endowed the program to purchase the devices.

      According to Todd Frank's introductory song at the 2016 Iowa Braille Challenge, "she loves sleeping, and to play with her dog and write" when she is not hard at work at her studies.

      (Photo and Brailer Award information - Courtesy of Southeast Polk Community School District)


      Lauren Thomson

      Lauren Thomson delivers the keynote address for the Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Workshop and Luncheon at the Iowa Department for the Blind on April 22, 2016.Lauren Thomson is a junior at Earlham High School. She loves school and everything that goes with it. Lauren is very involved and loves to stay busy. She is on the A honor roll, in National Honor Society, and on the Student Council. Activities include Drama, Speech Club, Marching Band, and numerous honor choirs. She delivered the keynote address at this year's Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Luncheon and Workshop at the Iowa Department for the Blind, including a reprise of the humorous speech she gave to qualify for the State Speech Contest. Lauren loves to travel, spend time with her friends, and read in her spare time.

      Lauren competed in the Varsity category this year for the 2016 Iowa Braille Challenge. She has qualified for the finals of the Braille Challenge the past 10 years.

      Roxanne Book, Iowa Braille Challenge Regional Coordinator, notes, "The Iowa Braille Challenge raises awareness about Braille and celebrates Braille readers, while encouraging them to sharpen their Braille skills." We applaud all who participated and wish best of luck to two Iowans who are going to sunny southern California!